Chaos descends as Jess (Ellie Gallimore), with a structured lifestyle, moves in with Maudie (Kat Stidston). Maudie is disorganised and in the absence of Daniel, her boyfriend who is away for three months, the two girls are constantly at each other’s throats. However, this quickly ends when a secret from the past is unveiled and the two become amateur detectives to uncover the truths that led to the death of Jess’s brother.
The writers and actors, Gallimore and Stidston, convincingly portray the girls’ differences, amplified by dramatic background classical music. Jess’s mother, Liz, also played by Gallimore, is uptight and prefers to have a tight control of her own home and surrounding environments, and many of these traits have been passed down to Jess. Maudie is made fully aware of the similarities between Jess and her mother when Liz visits the flat, while Jess is out on a date. Maudie doesn’t pass on the hand-written note from Liz to her daughter, elevating Jess’s dislike of Maudie. This in turn, triggers a series of events that leads to the reopening of a case that happened in years past, one that led to Jess’s brother, Alfie’s death. Based on information provided by Maudie’s sister and Alfie’s girlfriend, Steph (also played by Stidston), Jess and Maudie suspect that there is more to the story and perhaps Alfie’s death was not an accident after all.
The investigation into Alfie’s death drives the development between Jess and Maudie’s relationship. The two characters’ interactions are dynamic and comedic, capitalising on their individual strengths on their path to find the truth. A highlight is the humorous interrogation of an unknowing and unsuspecting date.
Emma Ford’s set design provides a complementary canvas for the story, allowing the audience to immerse themselves in the characters’ world, and it also demonstrates the complex series of events – uncovered on a pinboard, at home in any detective’s office.
Despite the fact that the overall story flows reasonably well, there are elements that could be further polished. Even though Jess was made aware of the details of Alfie’s death from his girlfriend Steph, she was too quick to also allow Maudie’s involvement in a serious matter. Given Jess’s previous dislike of Maudie, one would have expected that she would need to be further persuaded before letting Maudie in. Additionally, the writers alluded to Maudie’s own family issues, and yet other than serving as a vehicle to bring Steph to the apartment on one occasion, this part of the story does not appear to play any significant role in the overall narrative. It would have been interesting to explore further how Maudie’s upbringing shaped the character she is.
Following the conclusion, the audience is left wanting more on how Jess and Maudie resolved their differences and become best friends that continue to live together, with Daniel seemingly no longer in the picture. In fact, Daniel is not mentioned again and Maudie’s photo with him is replaced by one with Jess instead. This story is fast paced and entertaining with many enjoyable moments but could be enhanced with further development of subplots and a better integration of elements that are already present.
Written by: Ellie Gallimore and Kat Stidston
Directed by: Lydia Sax
Produced by: Jamie Rycroft
Text and Delete plays at Etcetera Theatre until 13 May. Further information and bookings can be found here.